Sunday, March 9, 2014

Evidence and the Reasoning Subconscious

I began to suspect that nobody, even me, respects evidence. In particular, not Less Wrong nor reactionaries. On reflection, I'm equivocating on 'evidence.' (Or: Aumann's theorem will never obtain.)

First, the sample bias. I can only consider those who write about their beliefs. Perhaps many are convinced by evidence, but would never blog about it, indicating a strong negative correlation.

Second, my counterfactual: there should be heretic neoreactionaries. Someone who buys say HBD but also AGW, because, coincidentally, they've seen a particular subset of evidence for AGW. Similarly, it should be possible to change a NRx's mind, and back again, by using subsets of evidence. We're always using subsets of the evidence, the question is whether it is a representative subset, so it should be possible to see-saw someone's mind by defrauding them with non-representative subsets. This fraud should sometimes happen by ignorance or luck.

Or: too much tribal correlation. Humans make mistakes, and they should occur in a random direction.

On Less Wrong the evidence is less clear, which brings me to the point about evidence.

Third: my equivocation.
There's scientific / natural philosophical evidence. There's also evidence that is difficult to describe, explain, or pass along.

The latter kind dominates subconscious processing.

The subconscious functions much like a machine language layer, which the consciousness communicates to in a very high-level language. It is labour intensive to consciously think. (But, e.g. necessary when learning math. Passing add(2, 5) to the uneducated subconscious returns [?].) It's easy to pass think(apples, red) to the subconscious and get something back...but necessarily, the consciousness does not automatically understand the implementation details of think() and therefore almost can't debug it, as that literally means calling think(think(), bugs). If think() has an issue, you won't get the right answer.

(Note that to learn add() means calling think() in the right ways.)

The subconscious commands orders of magnitude more neurons than the voluntary consciousness, and it has access to the unprocessed data to use that power on. (See transcranial magnetism induced savantism.) Even after somehow gathering the implementation details of think(), it lacks a formal notation. Gathering the information means calling think() on itself. If you invent a formal notation (e.g, think()) a full account of the implementation details will presumably be orders of magnitude larger than a couple graphs and charts. Subsequently, it has to be manually checked by redundantly gathering the information it calls for (like adding by consciously counting) in case there's a typo. There will be feedback - the subconscious is watching the implementation get written and will change as a result.

At this point, I've re-derived the usual conclusion - humans can only communicate if they already agree on 99% of what they're trying to say.  When think() implementations happen to match. In principle we could limit ourselves to describing the differences, but...

My think(Less Wrong, subconscious evidence dominance) returns true. Similarly, think(Less Wrong, ~see saw) and think(Less Wrong, ~tribal dissent). If your think() returns differently, I have no way of finding out why not.

Think() contradicts the notion that complex structures must be common to all individuals in a sexually reproducing species.

My prediction is that your philosophy or political leanings are almost entirely determined by which version of think() you happen to have. Once exposed to Dark Enlightenment thought, whether you buy it is determined by whether your subconscious buys it, which is determined by whether the DE article's evidence profile matches that used by your subconscious.

Charts and statistics are almost irrelevant to this process. Few think() implementations even use them, and of those that do, there's byte asymmetry. Say a conscious visual representation of a chart is worth a thousand times the bytes of its description; then, the subconscious gathered a million times as many bytes on the way to the chart.

I'm interested in knowing if it is possible to summarize what the subconscious generally uses as evidence. (How does one distinguish one article's tone from another?) If the feedback isn't fortuitously arranged, it may make it truly impossible. At least, checking a putative description is easy, as it will predict when and how minds get changed. Or not, as the case may be.

I would predict that most of what's called persuasive, isn't, but I think it is a retrodiction at this point. Most implementations of think(persuasive, argument) are bugged, which is why persuasion in general targets the wrong thing.

For now I decline to address the fact that beliefs are usually decorative, and think() is called by aliefs only.

Like a good passivist, I will hereby refrain from policy recommendations.


Ironically, the subconscious can return things even if not called, but does so in an even higher-level language than think() calls: emotions.

Friday, March 7, 2014

ARFAQ Spot Check: Suicide

Nick Land provides the 1928 suicide rate among kids, almost by accident.

A quick google gets me 2006.

Unfortunately the numbers aren't directly comparable. But, some quick estimates from the available data.

10-14: < 0.5 to ~1.5 per 100k
15-19: ~4 to 7 per 100k.

Slightly more dudes than chicks in this cohort used to kill themselves. Now, it's twice as often in 10-14 and four times as often in 15-19, matching the 1928 adult ratio.

This is not 'fallen by 20%'

So, err, even worse than I thought. Once again, the graph is cut off at a very convenient time. Or perhaps magic. The stats I stumble upon first happen to support my hypothesis - Google/Nick Land can psychically know my thoughts, as well as Alexander's - and therefore the stats Alexander stumbles upon first support his hypothesis too. Very nice of magic, don't you agree? Neighbourly. I thought I would have to skip checking suicide, and then the stats fall right into my lap.

This is even discounting the fact we don't want suicides, we want suicides-that-would-have-successfully-completed-against-1928-trauma-surgeons-and-ambulances, 2006. This is even discounting the fact that we know governments fudge the hell out of their numbers.

I also noticed a double bind. Either murder rates should be going up and are being kept down by trauma advances, OR murder rates should be going down, but stagnation in trauma medicine is holding them steady. Either way, the progressive has to play god of the gaps...assuming they can even think in straight lines long enough to notice there's a problem.

I found the opening sentences of the 1928 report a huge relief. It would appear it was written by an adult. With, like, perspective and stuff. I still wouldn't call the rate large, it's just that wealth should make it go down, not up - the trend is worrying.

Well, would be worrying, were the national rate any of my business. I'm only in this for the epistemology.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Note on Fascism and the Future 3

The first one was better than this one.
"A good many of the people who liked to insist that Weimar Germany was a fascist state got to find out—in many cases, at the cost of their lives—that there really is a difference between a troubled, dysfunctional, and failing representative democracy and a totalitarian state"
I'll spare you the rest of the article; no, he never justifies the link between fascism and prison camps. I fail to see how a charismatic leader or a uniformed militia imply prison camps in any way that democracy does not. I've already established that totalitarianism is hardly unique to fascism.

I'm sure the Japanese in the west would find it hard to tell the difference too.

Europeans have cultural resistance to alcoholism. For example, the taboos against drinking before noon or drinking alone. Anglo-Saxons have less enumerable resistances to democracy, having been first inoculated by its early, less virulent forms. This is perhaps the only thing that stopped us from going Auschwitz on the Japanese. Or perhaps, had the war gone the other way...

Similarly, these resistances are what stop the inherently totalitarian democracies from realizing their dreams.


I found his story wildly implausible. Hitler is not adaptive here, it does no good to copypasta his story. Details are good, though. In principle, someone could correct the details, but that would mean profoundly understanding Hitler. Mussolini's story is quite different in detail, but ultimately very similar. An American fascist would seem much, much different - to avoid memetic antibodies, if for no other reason. But, much as atheism is just Christianity sans book and god, an American fascist sans prison sentence, shitty book, and snazzy uniform would still be a fascist.

However, Greer has no reason not to think an American fascist might be a good thing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Juxtaposition IX: In Which I'm Wrong Several Times in a Row

I wanted to find that Alexander's data wasn't all buggered, but unfortunately I kept finding new reasons for cynicism. It doesn't help that I'm bad at counting.

This kind of iterative analysis is normal for me. It's unfortunate that it seems I work best by confidently asserting a position, (it naturally causes me to question myself). Seems like it would be misleading to those I confidently state it at. On the plus side I never forget that I'm wrong all the time, due to proving myself wrong more often than right.

On issues not internal comparison; this is not an argument. I'm simply reporting my observations. I'm not saying you should trust them, but saying I shouldn't trust my own observations isn't going to fly.

First, my notes, then stats for amusements, then my final attempt at a useful summary.

Suicide: straw man - suicide vs. suicide attempts / buggered

Debt: buggered / manipulated / point in favour

Homicide: straw man - homicide vs. homicide attempts / buggered

American homicide: dubious. If true, part of worldwide, nonprogressive trend.

Worldwide anti-violence: nonprogressive, point in favour of nrx. True.

War: manipulated. Probably true?

Hours worked: true but contaminated with welfare data, so buggered for our purposes.

Literacy: worldwide nonprogressive trend, but true.

Poverty: poverty of data, you mean. Also see previous.

Hunger: point in favour of nrx, probably buggered

World per capita: true, irrelevant to nrx position, but true.

US GDP: point in favor of nrx, misinterpreted

Harvard/leftist opinion table: favour of nrx, probably buggered

Blob graph: data is buggered, values aren't 2-D.

Arrow graph: buggered, point in favour of nrx.

Political involvement: point in favour of arguments about Singapore, HDI probably buggered.

World GDP: true but irrelevant

Pop density trifecta: true, misused. Buggered by confounders.

Divorce: buggered, but even if true in favour of nrx. Premarital sex by the lady increases your risk of divorce by 15% absolute, about 1 in 6.

Divorce 2.0: not exactly news to nrx. probably true. Mostly point in favour.

US Pop growth: Straw man - nrx talks native pop growth, SSC includes immigration. Nrx doesn't know what's going on either, though. Best is here; plausible, but I can hardly blame proggies for dismissing it.

Discrimination: good news, probably true, but straw man. See Richwine etc. What the masses think doesn't matter anymore; we live in a democracy only descriptively, not in any sense prescriptively.

4: straw men.
2: graphs cut off at awkwardly convenient moments.
8: data actually favours nrx predictions.
16: data interpreted overgenerously for progressivism.
10: data most likely true.
12: data is untrustworthy.

Total: 22
By descending seriousness of error:
12: probably untrue or self-contradictory.
2: straw men.
1: time range manipulated or chosen for convenience.
4: easily interpreted to favour nrx predictions.
3: irrelevant.

Unfortunately, that's all of them. None of the graphs are evidence neoreactionaries need to be worried about. While it is statistically unlikely that Alexander made this many errors by chance, it is at least as unlikely that neoreactionaries are in fact correct on all these points. It shouldn't be necessary to picked such flawed data to construct a telling criticism.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Anti-Reaction FAQ Spot Check and Epistemic Principles

Matt Simpson can say things I can't predict.

So I felt this was worth checking up on.

The suicide rate is full of confounders, so I skipped that one. See also Nassim Taleb about measuring distributions by sampling their extremes. (What we want to measure is happiness or satisfaction, not suicide per se.)
1.2: Is everyone falling further and further into debt?
But to me, the new graph looks like gradual decrease in debt since World War II up until Reagan’s big military buildup, followed by a gradual retreat from that military buildup. My God, won’t somebody stop Progressivism before it’s too late?!?!
My counter-hypothesis is that Alexander is cherry-picking his data.

For a start, 2008 is an awfully convenient end point.

Simpson had this cogent rebuttal:
However, it also supports the hypothesis that government debt has an equilibrium level. It used to be around a fairly sensible 35%, but has been steadily increasing since 1981.

Thus far, the data is not conclusive in either direction.

I hope Alexander didn't look at post-2008 data. Hopefully you can safely trust that I didn't look at post-2009 data before the above logic.

United States gross debt passed 100% in 2012 and currently stands at 106%. If you knew Reagan had a military buildup and knew nothing of the present but the debt graph, you would think America was at war.

Conclusion: Alexander is not predictive. Reaction is predictive.

To check my work: the IMF itself, the source of half these numbers, thinks public debt is on the reactionary trajectory.


Can't agree. Baseline goes up. Still looks like America's starting a war.

I don't think Alexander is intentionally cherry picking his data. I think he has some epistemic diseases.

First, I don't actually trust any of these numbers.
"Since you are a citizen of a repressive society, you should be extremely skeptical of all the information you get from schools, the media, and popular books on any topic related to the areas where active repression is occurring. That means at least politics, history, economics, race, and gender."

For comparison I looked up Canada's debt and found that everyone is lying about it, and I have no idea how the IMF calculated its numbers. It is not science: it is not verifiable.

The US numbers aren't verifiable either. They're probably being cooked or massaged down the way Financial Post massaged the number up. No disinterested observer would conclude the US government is really only a third of the economy, for example. Add in NGOs and regulatory costs borne by the private sector. Add in decisions 50% controlled by regulation at 50% government action. That's just off the cuff.

Alexander trusts the numbers.

Second, Alexander thinks that numbers can settle questions of interpretation, which, as I have hinted above, they cannot.

Either you think in straight lines or you don't, but in the context of an internet debate, the only way to check is to compare to a known straight-line thinker. Which you can only identify correctly if you think in straight lines in the first place. There's no point in trying to check.

Certainly, if you trust that neither Alexander nor I looked at post-2009 numbers, we can simulate prediction and thus do the ultimate straight-line check. However, that position is immediately vulnerable to any troll who wants to claim they don't trust, as they are indistinguishable from someone who legitimately does not trust.

For example, each time I gather more data, it fits with my previous hypothesis. You could make the argument I'm misinterpreting the data, but that reflects just as badly on Scott Alexander's charts. If they don't support my argument, they don't support his either.

But, if you trust the numbers, and trust they can settle interpretation, then you're not cherry picking: one instance of solid numbers is plenty. Scott Alexander is reasonably good at picking solid number sets.

Third, Alexander has a terrible case of missing the forest.
Does it really fucking matter what the debt is? Even on reactionary blogs, isn't this a side show? (I hope it's a side show.) My point is not that debt is going up, my point is that Alexander's reasoning doesn't support his conclusion, suggesting he has a habit of supporting conclusions badly.

The point of the debt argument is democratic(descriptively) government is unsustainable. More broadly, Carlyle was right. As it (apparently) happens, this is manifesting in unsustainable rises in debt.

But it's also manifesting in unsustainable rises in private debt. It's a general culture of imprudence.

Of course, Carlyle is unscientific too. He published his conclusions far more than his reasoning. Were we to try to reconstruct it, we have no way to check we've reconstructed it correctly. But every time he correctly predicts, we should worry a little more about the predictions that haven't quite come true yet for us.

Good luck finding a think-tank publishing an imprudence ratio. Or, even worse, trying to measure how many individuals have destroyed their lives by taking on debt. How many negative utilons, exactly, does 'destroyed' mean?

However, there's no reason in principle both governments and people couldn't have an unprincipled exception and maintain pristine debt records.

The reactionary prediction is that progressive governments will destroy themselves and grievously harm everyone nearby on the way down. That progressivism makes you more imprudent that you would otherwise have been.

The progressive prediction is that they will not only survive, but thrive, and benefit everyone on the way up. That, (for example) we're becoming imprudent because it is no longer necessary to be so prudent. We can chill and everything will be fine.

You cannot correctly distinguish between these predictions based on suicide rate variations on the order of 1%. It doesn't matter how much debt governments hold unless and until they, all of a sudden, are holding too much.

The most important things cannot be measured at all, even in principle.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Notes on Fascism and the Future 2

Greer talks a strong line about curing the ignorance of the public. I don't think public ignorance is curable. They, quite rationally, don't care enough to do the necessary work. And a 100 IQ means it is a lot of work, even neglecting the greater burden of illusions.

"That last word has been bandied around so freely over the years since then that it’s probably necessary to stop here and discuss what it means. A totalitarian political system is one in which the party in power claims the right to rule every sphere of life: political, religious, artistic, scientific, sexual, and so on through all the normally distinct dimensions of human existence."
I have a shorter definition. In a totalitarian state, it is legal for the sovereign to legislate anything. Therefore, democracy is inherently totalitarian. You might retort with 'free speech', but it is legal to amend the constitution. One reason I buy Moldbug's equivalence of National Socialism, Communism, and Democracy is that they share totalitarianism in common.

I contrast with one of Nick Szabo's areas of expertise, medieval England, or indeed common law in general.
"More specifically, it’s supposed to be the far end of that side of the spectrum, the thing that’s more conservative than the conservatives, just as—to the contemporary American right—Communism is the far end of the left side of the spectrum, the thing that’s more liberal than the liberals."
Last week I talked about a way AIACC is false. Here is a way it is true. If 'communist' means 'radical left,' then except with reference to the Overton window of 2014 and its intimate neighbours, the Republicants are communist. The Demobrats are infinitesimally more communist.
"These three features are the things that fascist movements and regimes consistently rejected. The first is Marxism, the second liberalism, and the third—the hot-button one—is conservatism."
As per last week, right and left are rhetorical traps. Both communists and fascists, in either precise or American meanings, would shriek if subjected to medieval England's legal systems, just as conservatism and fascism can only war with each other. The systems are in the sky or underground somewhere by the left-right coordinate system.

Jim has said there's one left and a thousand rights. But then 'left' is a code word for proggie and 'right' doesn't mean anything.

This is why it's so hard to make a good argument for Nazism being right or left. It's not progressivism, so it must be right. But it's also highly opposed to conservatism, so it must be left. Or maybe the whole spectrum is a scam and no consistent reading can be got out of it because it's inherently inconsistent.
"vied to see who could come up with more excuses for centralizing power in the executive branch of the federal government."
Pity Greer missed the memo about bureaucratic government. Perhaps someone more diplomatic than I could forward it to him?
"When Hitler ranted about the will of das Volk, for example, he was simply borrowing Rousseau’s notion of the general will of the people, which both men believed ought to be free from the pettifogging hindrance of mere laws and institutions."
Totalitarianism is a legally unconstrained sovereign.
Of course a good Anarcho-formalist is agnostic about whether totalitarianism is good or bad. Rather this is the first step to discovery: calling things by their right names.
"Even to the extent that labels such as “left” and “right” apply to the n-dimensional continuum"
First. Less-not-first, at least.
"When fascism succeeds in seizing power, in other words, it’s not a right-wing movement, or for that matter a left-wing one. It seizes the abandoned middle ground of politics,"
If Demobrats are left and Republicants are right, then by 'middle ground' he means 'far right,' and also way off to the side. Except for the raisins of radical leftness.
"That’s the secret of fascism’s popularity—and it’s the reason why an outbreak of full-blown fascism is a real and frightening possibility as America stumbles blindly into an unwelcome future."
I feel Greer is failing to justify seeing fascism as frightening, or indeed noticeably worse than what democracy descriptively is.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Deeper Understanding of Arrow's Impossibility

Collective preferences do exist, the problem is there's no way to honestly communicate them, because real voting must be zero sum but real preferences are not.

Also consciousness per se.

Riffing off this, via 1, via 2 Isegoria somewhere, revisited due to Nick Land. I referred to Wikipedia for logical diffraction, but I don't recommend doing so yourself in this case.

First, to make sure we're on the same page and so I can audit my thought processes...
"Andy likes sprinkles on his ice cream.  Andy walks into the ice-cream shop and seeing that they have chocolate, strawberry and vanilla chooses chocolate.  Before the vendor has a chance to scoop the ice cream she says "Today, chocolate comes with free sprinkles."  "In that case," Andy says, "I'll have vanilla.""
This happens in runoff voting systems. Proof by example:
First round, six for vanilla, seven for strawberry, seven for chocolate. Vanilla is eliminated, and four voters change to chocolate, for the win.
But, sprinkles.
First round, two strawberry voters are converted, so it's six, five, nine. Now strawberry is eliminated, and  everyone left changes to vanilla, which wins.

As per Arrow's theorem, eliminating this problem only introduces others. I ask myself, what's the nearest runoff like model that obeys positive association or monotonicity?

I think it's quicker to skip to idealism and work backward. If we could measure preferences directly like a voltmeter, it would work. However, voters would have different total voltages in this case. Converting to less-ideal self-reporting, it runs afoul of strategic voting. Everyone will self-report their voltage as infinite, vote infinitely for their first candidate, which either reduces to one-man-one-vote or is undefined. By contrast, any scheme to limit their voltages by external measurements will end up reintroducing the original problem when preferences change and the external corroborate doesn't.

Even if you don't buy my proof that consciousness is ontologically subjective, it is epistemically subjective for all practical purposes. It can't be measured, but nevertheless, a true well-behaved aggregate preference exists.

Arrow's Impossibility Theorem would be a consequence of ontological subjectivity, Aristotle could have worked out ontological subjectivity, then derived Arrow's theorem from it. My proof is therefore useful even if not exactly true. But usefulness is usually correlated with veracity...